GENE WARS: Military Control Over the New Genetic Technologies by Charles & Keith R. Yamamoto Piller

GENE WARS: Military Control Over the New Genetic Technologies

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Journalist Piller and molecular biologist Yamamoto would have us believe in a vast, sinister Pentagon conspiracy aimed at pushing molecular biology research into producing hair-raising biological weapons. To set the tone of the debate, the authors dream up a couple of horrifying near-future scenarios in which fantastic biological weapons are used in surgical military operations. From there, this inflammatory consciousness-raiser rambles on through the history of biological and chemical warfare--from the Tatars, who in 1346 bombarded the beseiged city of Caffa with plague-infected bodies, via the 1925 Geneva Protocol outlawing the use of chemical weapons, to CIA experiments with LSD and nerve gases and the recent Yellow Rain fiasco (where showers of supposedly lethal toxins turned out to be bee feces). Attempting to determine what the Pentagon is currently up to, the authors have combed through and analyzed numerous unclassified documents and sources. Their research shows, unquestionably, that: the Pentagon is actively meddling in certain aspects of biological research; its methods of acquiring funds would not always withstand a GAO audit; dirty tricks are used; and certain Defense Department scientists are incompetent and/or involved in illegal research. So, some Pentagon-bashing is certainly called for--but the evidence hardly indicates a plot to subvert the entire, rapidly expanding, multibillion-dollar biotechnology industry. Nor do the authors demonstrate how such a plot might conceivably succeed. The issue merits reasoned, intelligent scrutiny, but this disorganized and overheated tome falls a long way short.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1988
Publisher: Beech Tree/Morrow